Education in the Cantons of of Zürich, Basel, Berne, Lucerne and Zug

Understand the education system in German-speaking Zürich...

Some of the cantons in German-speaking Zürich have different names for the different education levels. The most common are known as:

  • Vorschulestufe or Kindergarten (4 to 6 years old)
  • Primarschule (6 to 12 years old)
  • Sekundarstufe 1 (12 to 15 years old)
  • Sekundarstufe 2 (after 16 years of age)

Note these ages may vary slightly from canton to canton.

In Lucerne, the education levels after kindergarten are known as:

  • Realschule
  • Secondar
  • Kanti

In Basel, kindergarten is mandatory for two years. Children begin in August of the year that they will turn five. After four years of primary school, Primarschule, children go on to Orientierungsschule for three years. They then choose between Weiterbildungsschule, a preparation for vocational training, which lasts two years, or Gymnasium, which involves five years of schooling in preparation for the Matura.

  • For further information from the official Basel website: Click here

Enrolment in pre-school

Necessary documents:

  • Proof of health and accidents insurance
  • Residence permit

For international civil servants, an Arbeitsbewilligung or a certificate from the parent's workplace for the tutor and child as proof of residence. Parents should be aware of the deadlines for enrolment in pre-school (normally at the beginning of the year). Children who have reached the age of four on 30 June of the calendar year may be enrolled for the school year starting in August of the same calendar year. Parents may request a derogation to delay enrolment for children born between 1 July and 31 October.

For enrolment in a private pre-school a birth certificate may be required.

Information about enrolment and other formalities can be obtained from the Bildungsdepartement or Bildungsdirektion in your canton.

Enrolment in primary and secondary school

Every child registered in German-speaking Zurich and under 15 years old must attend school. Children who have reached the age of six on 30 June of the calendar year must be enrolled in primary school for the school year starting in August of the same calendar year.

To enrol in primary and secondary school the following documents are needed:

  • Proof of health and accidents insurance
  • Residence permit. For international civil servants, an Arbeitsbewilligung or a certificate from the parent's workplace for the tutor and child
  • Private schools may require a birth certificate

Non-resident students have to attend the primary or secondary school of their area.